Imagine yourself on the London bridge last Saturday night — Sympathy VS. Empathy

Imagine yourself on the London bridge last Saturday night — Sympathy VS. Empathy

I will be honest. I did not enjoy writing this article. It makes me sick to my stomach to truly imagine myself in the place of some of the witnesses to the London bridge attack as I recount the stories in my own words. Sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another. Imagine it’s Saturday night. You are out for a couple of beers with some friends. Someone suggests you all go to another bar just across the London bridge. “It’s a better vibe over there,” they say. You all step out into the warm spring night and start making your way over to the next establishment. There are people everywhere in the streets, its the weekend. The group walking ahead of you is a little drunk, singing and laughing, as they stumble along the sidewalk. There is a couple walking behind you, holding hands. Others are following them. You hear the squeal of tires and immediately guess it’s another young kid showing off, spinning the wheels on his dad’s sports car. You laugh. You were his age once and know what it’s like to crave attention from the ladies. You hear the roar of an engine as the pedal hits the floor and look ahead to see a pair of headlights swerve towards the sidewalk. It’s not a sports car, it’s a van. “Drunk idiot!” you say, “He’s going to hit somebody clowning around like that.” The tires hit the curb and the van bounces onto the sidewalk. The folks ahead of...
Where your eyes go, energy flows.

Where your eyes go, energy flows.

Why you can’t move away from the negativity that plagues your life. When Scott Summers, a member of the X-Men, first discovers his superpower, it comes in the form of an uncontrolled blast of energy from his eyes that destroys everything in it’s path when his emotions surge. Until the young man learns to control these beams of energy, he causes a lot of damage to himself and his surroundings. It is only his visor that finally gives him relief of the sporadic head pains and control of his vicious power. But unlike Scott’s eyes, our glare does not destroy the things we look at, but instead destroys our lives as we focus on them.   Don’t we all have this power?   Our brains have worked very hard over many years of our human existence to protect us from predators. Whether it was the saber-toothed tiger, an attack from the next village over, or losing our mate to a stronger man, our brain has evolved to spot danger and send us warning signals. It is like that beam of burning energy from our eyes, drawing us in, wherever we may look, always analyzing and sending stress chemicals through our body. The problem is, we no longer have saber-toothed tigers to watch out for yet the brain continues to spend massive amounts of energy on searching for anything that is a potential threat. We took things that hurt our ego, self-esteem, or social status and conditioned the brain to identify them as threats. This is why it is so much easier for us to zero in on the negativity and...
How to: The simple 3 step guide to dividing people

How to: The simple 3 step guide to dividing people

A “Nazi” and a “Communist” take an Uber together. A few days ago I was in Seattle for work. We finished up our project early and decided to catch the Mariners baseball game being played in town that evening. We ordered an Uber and hopped in, heading for the stadium. On the ride over, we learned our driver was born in Germany. His grandpa fought for the German’s in WWII, and ended up in a Russian prisoners camp for 13 years. I thought this was neat because I was born in Soviet Russia, and my grandpa fought against the Germans in WWII. He ended up in a German death camp for prisoners of war. Here we were, nearly 65 years later. We rode in the same car and we shared stories of a disturbing time in human history, a “Nazi” and a “Communist,” as we would have been called not too long ago. There was no hate. Why would there be? The war was fought by young boys, convinced they were fighting evil, justified in their actions. But it was started by manipulative, power hungry, ******* (Insert expletive here. I personally like the word “bastards.”) So how do you divide and create a hate between people, to the point of them murdering each other? Easy. 1. You make them believe they belong to a great cause, even greater than human life.  We humans have an amusing characteristic. We NEED to believe in something and be a part of something. It’s what gives us meaning, a sense of belonging, a sense of community. Sharing a common belief with others gives us comfort...
Leaders don’t ADVISE, leaders LEAD

Leaders don’t ADVISE, leaders LEAD

The guy in the leather jacket is Mike, a Portland Oregon Hip Hop artist. The good looking gentleman in the gray sweater, is me. When a few friends and I arrived at the partially stripped Vance Creek Bridge last Saturday, Mike had been sitting at the start of the wet and rusted beam for over an hour. He had his video crew waiting on him, trying to film a music video on the bridge. The beam starts at 20′ above the ground and eventually turns into the second tallest railway bridge in the United States. Mike was scared as hell and so was I. To get to the wood railroad ties of the bridge and ultimately to “safety”, you must first walk across 70′ of slippery metal. I crawled the first time across. When I came back, Mike was still fighting his fear with 6 different people giving him advice on the best way across. I offered to go back across with him to lead the way and Mike immediately took me up on my offer. We had never met but we had a common enemy, the ground below. One butt-slide at a time and cracking a few jokes along the way, slowly but surely we made it over and Mike over came his fear. Mike & I making progress Actions, not words, are the ultimate results of leadership. -Bill Owens I was surprised when Mike took me up on the offer, for all he knew I could have been a psychopath who would push him off the bridge once we got to the highest point. But there is something...
5 ways we can keep the Christmas spirit going year round

5 ways we can keep the Christmas spirit going year round

Christmas was always my favorite holiday as a kid and still is to this day. There really is something magical in the air and from about December 1st to the day after Christmas, we all behave just a bit differently. We are more patient in lines at the grocery store or in traffic. We toss in a few bucks to the guys with the bells and red kettles at the mall entrance. We put in extra effort to spend time and talk with family and we tend to be much more giving. There is something about this time of year that just exudes the true meaning of family. Even the way we communicate with strangers is different. A few years ago, a couple of friends and I made a trip to New York City for the annual ball drop on New Year’s Eve. We were staying on the east coast for 10 days and were also spending Christmas there. We thought it would be a more “Christmassy” trip if we made a point of saying “Merry Christmas” to as many strangers as we could on the trip, starting with the plane ride. The goal was for each of us to say it to at least 100 strangers in the span of the 10 days. We had a blast and the conversations I had with complete strangers were incredible. So much so that I began to wonder why I couldn’t continue to be so open and friendly with people year round. During these last 25 days or so, I am again reminded of the need for us all to find...
Don’t listen to speak, listen to understand

Don’t listen to speak, listen to understand

Being polite means waiting for the other person to pull their hand out of the Doritos bag before you reach in for a handful. Nobody likes your cheesed fingers brushing up against their hand. There just isn’t enough room in a potato chip bag for two adult hands. Just like waiting for the other person to finish speaking is also “polite” but that’s not what it means to really listen in a conversation. I thought I was a great listener. I finally learned to shut my mouth and let the other person finish speaking before I jumped in and rambled out my two cents and I was proud of myself for that. Previously, whether I was arguing with my lady, discussing football or politics with a group of friends, or dissecting business plans with my partners, I was always interrupting people because I either thought I already knew what they were trying to say or felt like my point of view was just more important. Turns out, I am still a terrible listener. I did not become a better listener as I had originally thought, I just became more polite. Good communication starts with listening but there is much more to the “listening” part than just waiting for your chance to speak.   Conversation is not always communication When I talk about the importance of listening, I am not talking about in the day to day conversations here, I’m talking about the ones where real communication needs to occur. When your marriage, your business, your job, or your friendship may be on the line. The problem rarely comes from...

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